Results-Oriented Marketing Nets Trumbull Tourism National Award

WARREN, Ohio — The Trumbull County Tourism Bureau received national recognition at the U.S. Travel Association’s 2021 Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations, where the bureau received the Destiny Award for Printed Collateral Material.

The event’s Destiny and Mercury awards were open to destination marketing organizations throughout the United States. Trumbull Tourism was the only such organization from Ohio – and the smallest in the country – to bring home an award, says Executive Director Beth Kotwis Carmichael, who attended the seminar Aug. 15-17 in Los Angeles.

“We at Trumbull County Tourism are really excited to be recognized on a national level for the work that we do on behalf of Trumbull County,” Kotwis Carmichael says.

Noting the size of the other finalists, as well as their budgets, Kotwis Carmichael admits she wasn’t sure if the county bureau would win. “We were blown away by the other two finalists and just what large bureaus they are compared to ours,” she says. In the printed collateral category, the “2020 Trumbull County Visitors Guide” was up against St. Pete/Clearwater’s “Bay Magazine” and Visit KC’s “Official Visitors Guide.”

Trumbull Tourism produced 40,000 guides at a cost of $16,000 plus revenue from advertising sales that made up the rest of the production expense, according to the entry. That compares to a print circulation of 150,000 for Visit KC’s guide, which was printed at no cost and generated $77,770 in ad sales, and St. Pete/Clearwater’s project, which reached 650,000 potential visitors with a total cost of more than $1.2 million.

For the judges, Trumbull Tourism’s project stood out because of the bureau’s use of data and insights.

“Across all of the entries I reviewed, this team stood head and shoulders above the rest in working to understand the outcomes and impact of their work,” one judge wrote. “Not only did they start with the consumer in mind, but they followed up and were able to demonstrate that their work drove economic impact, with 40% of the guide’s recipients making a trip to Trumbull.”

In addition, the bureau calculated for every $1 spent on the guide, it returned $9 in incremental spending to the county, Kotwis Carmichael says. Further, more than half of those who requested the visitor guide but didn’t visit Trumbull County say they still intend to visit once they feel it’s safe to travel.

For all of the marketing efforts from 2019 to 2020, the bureau calculates for every $1 spent, it returned $194 in spending per party that visits, she adds. Research conducted this past spring didn’t include people who were already visiting Trumbull County, she notes, rather looked at those who were influenced by the bureau’s marketing.

“We’ve taken this extra step to determine the impact that the investment Trumbull County makes in the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau to make sure that comes back in a way that’s positive,” she says.

Trumbull Tourism, which operates with an annual budget of $350,000, has put its focus on “results-oriented marketing efforts,” she says. Over the last three years, the bureau has worked to determine the right marketing tactics for the intended audience, as well as identifying psychographic information on who their visitors are, such as interests, media habits and personality type.

That information is reflected in all of the bureau’s marketing efforts, Kotwis Carmichael says. For printed materials, as well as photo and video shoots, “who we select for talent to be in front of that camera is important, because we want to make sure we’re representing not only our visitors, but our community.” Residents need to be able to see themselves in the collateral, she says.

Aside from the award, Kotwis Carmichael says her proudest achievement for the past year has been the bureau’s ability to adapt in the face of the pandemic. By focusing on individuals looking to do more activities closer to home and outdoors, Trumbull Tourism worked to come up with innovative activities, like the recently launched Where’s Wally scavenger hunt mobile pass.

Users are challenged to check in at eight different locations throughout the county. The first 200 to do so will receive a secret destination point to pick up a Wally plush toy. Since launching the mobile pass Aug. 25, three participants have claimed their prize, she says.

Pictured at top: Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Executive Director Beth Kotwis Carmichael accepts the 2021 ESTO Destiny Award: Printed Collateral for 2020 Trumbull County Visitors Guide. (Image: Kyle Espeleta Photography/U.S. Travel Association)

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